Early in my tenure at SPAR, I wrote about Autodesk’s purchase of Bitsquid, a video game engine that could be used to create interactive 3D experiences (“games”) from architectural designs, plans, and most kinds of spatially organized information. Like the Unity game engine, Bitsquid would generate files that could be accessed on a computer, or even an Oculus Rift or other VR headset, to give your audience or client a realistic sense of what it’s like to be inside the space you’ve modeled. Since Autodesk made the purchase, we haven’t heard much about what exactly they planned to do with Bitsquid.
Now we know: They’ve been retooling Bitsquid to release a new version under a new name, Stingray. This is good news for Autodesk’s users.
Autodesk’s Stingray is like the Unity game engine in a lot of ways, but seems designed to simplify the cumbersome workflow necessary to create an interactive 3D experience. Here’s the major feature: When you make a change in an Autodesk product like Maya or 3DS Max, it shows up in Stingray in just a few seconds.
That might not sound like much, but it will eliminate a great deal of back and forth. Previously, a game designer (or anyone who needed to render 3D data in a game engine), would work on their 3D models and then load them into the game engine to render. Then they’d wait. And maybe wait some more. If anything didn’t turn out quite right, they had to begin the whole cycle over again. Now users can see the results almost immediately, as long as they’re working in the Autodesk ecosystem.
For converting a BIM model into a “game,” the workflow goes like this: Create a model in Revit, bring it into 3ds Max, and Stingray will render it. Make an edit in 3ds Max and Stingray will update without making you wait.
The new engine also promises to look better than the old one. Though the better visuals were clearly developed for video game and visual artists, AEC users will certainly benefit from this.
As Autodesk explained in an official statement, “The Stingray engine can also be used in design environments and is an informative next step to further understand design data before anything is physically built. The engine’s real-time digital environment, on a powerful, data-driven architecture, is programmed to look and feel like the physical world. Through the high-end development tools and visual scripting system, customers can program objects, light effects, environmental elements, materials, and entourage elements to behave and react as they would in the physical world.”
In other words, pop on your Oculus Rift VR display, and you’ll be placed inside a realistic simulation of your CAD model, complete with lighting effects and physics.
Update: pricing is $30 per month or $240 per year in subscription costs.